Minister of the Interior Maria Ohisalo (Greens) was photographed arriving for the government’s weekly informal meeting, the so-called evening class, in Helsinki on 14 October 2020. (Vesa Moilanen – Lehtikuva)

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A LARGE TASK FORCE specialising in the prevention of human trafficking will be established within the Police of Finland, reveals Minister of the Interior Maria Ohisalo (Greens).

Ohisalo told Helsingin Sanomat on Sunday that the task force will initially consist of 20 police officers, 17 of whom will be working under Helsinki Police Department and three under the National Bureau of Investigation (KRP).

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The task force, she added, will hopefully also include a few civilian experts.

“It’s important that we’re now making progress. I hope this sends a message to everyone that this government is taking the issue seriously. We can’t give the impression that we have no interest in this phenomenon,” she said to the daily newspaper. “This is a major human rights issue. Also the companies that circumvent the rules and exploit people are throttling honest companies.”

Media reports from earlier this year indicate that human trafficking and labour exploitation are fairly common phenomena in sectors such as agriculture, cleaning and restaurant. The phenomena are evident also in a notable increase of contacts received by organisations assisting victims of human trafficking, wrote Helsingin Sanomat.

The increase, the newspaper highlighted, is not necessarily an indication of human trafficking becoming more common, but rather that it is identified and its victims are able to seek help better than before.

Ohisalo revealed she has high expectations for the task force: more and more of the victims should be identified and more and more of the offences detected and investigated.

“I hope that victims will increasingly have the courage to demand justice and dignified treatment. Not everyone currently necessarily has confidence in the authorities,” she stated.

“People in the margins of society must feel that they can get help. Companies engaging in this sort of activity must understand that the competitive advantage gained by exploiting people will not be granted to anyone in a welfare state.”

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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